Sunday's motors: Martin Truex Jr. repeats at Sonoma
Sonoma, Calif. — Martin Truex Jr. and Kyle Busch have managed to keep their long-standing rivalry quite friendly during their first season as teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing.
It’s a bit easier for Truex to be a gracious winner — and for Busch to be somewhat content with second place — when their two Toyotas are blowing away the rest of the NASCAR Cup Series field by a full 31 seconds, as they did on a dominant Sunday in wine country.
Truex won on the hilly road course at Sonoma Raceway for the second straight year and the third time in his career, comfortably holding off Busch for JGR’s 10th victory of the season.
Truex won for the fourth time in the last eight points-paying races, earning his 23rd career victory overall. Busch also has four wins this season, putting the two veteran drivers in position for a long summer of friendly competition.
“We race as hard as we can possibly race on the race track, and we respect each other off it,” Truex said. “That works out pretty good.”
Although Busch is a vicious competitor, he had perspective on this result after failing to find a way to make a late push past Truex. Their careers have intersected regularly since 2004, when Truex held off Busch to win the Busch Series championship.
“It (stinks) to finish second to a teammate, but it is good for the company,” said Busch, who has four top-five finishes in the last five years at Sonoma. “Overall, Martin is really good here. I’m just pumped that I actually ran good.”
Ryan Blaney was a distant third, more than 33 seconds behind Truex. Matt DiBenedetto finished a career-best fourth, and JGR’s Denny Hamlin was fifth. Erik Jones, JGR’s fourth driver, came in eighth.
Truex and Busch finished 1-2 for the seventh time in their careers, and they were the class of the final stage in a caution-free race. While JGR isn’t overwhelming its foes in the points standings, it hopes to build on its strong Northern California performance into the summer.
“What a season we’ve turned this into,” said Truex, who has won with three different team owners at Sonoma. “This group, man, they’re unbelievable. Hopefully we can keep it going.”
After Hamlin won the second stage, Truex got the lead early in the third stage, and Busch didn’t follow Truex into the pits for the final stop. When Busch finally pitted four laps later, Truex reclaimed the lead with 23 laps to go. Truex opened an 8-second advantage and held off a strong push by Busch to win by 1.861 seconds.
At Elkhart Lake, Wis., Alexander Rossi took the lead in the first turn of the first lap, and then drove away from the rest of the field to win at Road America.
Rossi led 54 of 55 laps, only relinquishing the lead when he made pit stops, and finished more than 28 seconds ahead of Will Power. Josef Newgarden finished third, followed by Graham Rahal and Scott Dixon.
“You’re pushing every lap, regardless of the gap, right?” Rossi said. “You’ve got to stay in that mindset and in the zone.
“I actually never saw Alex. I felt like I was running my own race.”
It was the second win of the season and seventh career victory for Rossi, who also won at Long Beach earlier this year. Rossi also has three second-place finishes this year.
Rossi started the race on the front row, next to pole-sitter Colton Herta. He passed Herta right after the green flag dropped, and quickly built a big lead.
At Le Castellet, France, Lewis Hamilton comfortably won the French Grand Prix from pole position to clinch a sixth victory this season and extend his championship lead over Mercedes teammate Valtteri Bottas to 36 points.
Hamilton has hit a purple patch as he chases a sixth Formula One world title. This was his fourth consecutive win and 79th overall — only 12 behind Formula One record-holder Michael Schumacher’s tally of 91.
Bottas, who made a poor start from second on the grid, finished in second place. He was a massive 18 seconds behind Hamilton, who on Saturday took a record-extending 86th pole.
“I got into my rhythm and after that it was quite comfortable,” Hamilton said.
Ferrari driver Charles Leclerc placed third, almost catching Bottas on the last lap.
Bob Tasca III won consecutive Funny Car events for the first time in his career, beating Jack Beckman in the final round of the Summit Racing Equipment NHRA Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio.
A week after winning in Bristol, Tennessee, for his first victory in nearly seven years, Tasca edged Beckman with a 4.383-second pass at 245.09 mph in a Ford Mustang for his sixth career win.
Steve Torrence won in Top Fuel, Chris McGaha in Pro Stock and Andrew Hines in Pro Stock Motorcycle.